The new music competition Songland continues tonight on NBC. Songwriters compete to have their tune recorded by that week’s mega-artist. Songwriter/producers Ryan Tedder, Shane McAnally and Ester Dean will help the contestants bring their ideas to life.
Four songwriters will present their tunes to pop singer/songwriter Meghan Trainor.
Sidenote: I gotta start writing in cliched hyperbolic sound bites so NBC will pull my quote for a Songland commercial. #icantbringmyselftodoit. #ijustcant #maybeifthepaywasright.
Now…on with the recap!
Last week’s song, Jonas Brothers and Able Heart’s “Greenlight” hit No 2 on the iTunes overall chart and stayed there for several days. It’s STILL in the Top 20 at No. 18. Impressive. The best showing for Songland so far.
Meghan Trainor is working on her third album and is looking for some songs. Let’s see what we got
Brandin Jay – No Money Alright – Right now, he’s working at a coffee shop. He’s running an entertainment buisness with his mom at night. Brandin may be juggling day jobs now, but je has television credits, including the movies Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins and Disney’s Let It Shine. The song is upbeat and sounds like the kind of thing Meghan would record. Brandin is a very good singer. Meghan is “heying” and “hoing” all the way through his performance. Brandin becomes emotional, describing how his dreams were coming true. Meghan says he was “born to do this.” She thinks the chorus could be improved “in a fun way.” Ryan thinks the lyric needs to reflect that Meghan actually has money now. So it’s not “I want money” but “I don’t need money.” The team tweaks the arrangement to make it a little darker. Brandin calls Ester his “Spirit Animal.”
Kole – Hurt Me – She was “pretty ostracized” in middle school. Music got through it. “I love pop music,” she gushes. The song was inspired by a break up. When she wrote it, she thought it would be amazing for Meghan, without knowing how to get it to her. Shane says: “I thought I had to be George Strait to go to Nashville. The truth was I wasn’t straight and my name wasn’t George.” Heh. Hm. The rapping in the chorus is weird. But Meghan seems pretty pleased. But then, Meghan’s songs are mostly bad. (sorry not a fan). The verse is better than the chorus. Ryan doesn’t like some of the background sounds.
Zachary Kale – All Over Again – This Athens, Alabama native co-wrote Gabby Barrett’s current single “I Hope” with the American Idol alum and Jon Nite.
Josh Wood – Alone – Josh manages American Idol alum Catie Turner, and has worked as a casting director for American Idol, America’s Got Talent and The Four. He’s placed songs on the TV shows Grey’s Anatomy, Nashville, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and The Mindy Project. He got a write-up in Billboard for his single “Radio You & I.” Ester compares his looks to Justin Timberlake. He glosses over his day job “I work Bar Mitzvahs,” he demures, when asked. He promises that the song isn’t sad. “It’s sassy!” he claims. It’s got a cool jazzy beat, a nice flow and a good hook. “That was a bomb,” says Meghan. Shane tweaks the lyrics. Ryan adds some crazy ad libs that Meghan is convinced she can’t sing. As they work on the song, Josh is overwhelmed. Ryan calls the chorus “A true hit.”
Results: Brandin Jay, Kole and Josh Wood advance to the studio round. Unsurprisingly, Zachary Kale is cut. Meghan says she can’t cut his song, because she has “way too many love songs” already. She tells the camera that she needs something “upbeat and sassier.” But hey. His song with Gabby is charting on country AND IS NO.1 on DISNEY RADIO. So it’s all good, right?
Shane McAnally works with Josh Wood, Ryan Tedder teams up with Kole and Ester Dean collaborates with Brandin Jay. Shane loves Josh’s melody, but believes the lyrics need work. He presents Josh with a few ideas. But Josh went ahead and rewrote the lyrics himself. Shane is so impressed, he crumples up and tosses his lyric sheet. Kole produced her own track. Ryan is impressed and believes she really understands pop music. He wants to add some urban elements. Ester is going to change up some of Brandin’s lyrics, along with the beat. They syncopate the chorus, and talk about using a choir. Ryan upgraded every line of Kole’s song, but left the chorus intact. Meghan changes Brandin’s lyrics–she thinks the original is a little dated.
Josh Wood – Alone – This song is really catchy! It’s got an appealing 80’s vibe. I like it. He could record that himself and it would be just fine. Ester thinks it has a Mariah Carey melody. Oh, I can hear that. It sounds a little New Jack Swing to me.
Kole – Hurt Me – This is my least favorite of the three. But the reworked song is definitely an improvement. Gah. I hate that talky pre-chorus. However, I can imagine Meghan recording the track.
Brandin Jay – We Got Us – New title! The lyrics are different. It’s no longer about not having money. Now it about the idea that friendship is better than money. The song is just OK, But Brandin elevates it with an his endlessly optimistic and upbeat delivery. Meghan thanks him for being so flexible on changing the song. Ryan wants to write with him, “You radiate joy,” he says.
Results: Meghan has ALL the songs stuck in her head. She’s having a hard time deciding. In the end, she chooses Kole’s “Hurt Me.” Figures she’d choose the worst of the three. But then, Meghan is a cornball and gimmicky songwriter herself. SORRY NOT SORRY.
Josh Wood’s song was the best of the three, in my opinion.